Height and Longevity in a Long-Living Population

Dany Chambre, Independant researcher
Anne Herm, TLU
Michel Poulain, TLU

Anthropometric traits observed during military medical examination are excellent indicators of conscript’s health and nutritional status. In this contribution, we check if the longevity of conscripts might be associated with their anthropometric traits as observed at military medical examination based on observation on 1500 conscripts from the Sardinian village of Villagrande born between 1853 and 1935. More precisely, their longevity will be characterized by two complementary aspects that are the survival from 50 to 80 years and the survival above 80 years. We find that the association between height and longevity shows a crossover. Taller conscripts survive better from 50 to 80 but shorter ones live longer above 80 years. We propose three possible explanations:

  1. Lanari et al. (2011) show that both very short and very tall conscripts were in worse health at military medical examination. That might result in a shorter longevity for both groups.
  2. Another explanation might be linked to a selection process. The short conscripts face higher mortality risks between 50 and 80 and accordingly those who survive at 80 might reach more easily oldest ages.
  3. A last explanation is proposed by Samaras (2013) when he explains that we have a limited number of cell replications during our life-time. Taller people have more replications during their lives because they need to maintain a taller and larger body. This may explain why they may have fewer cell replications remaining in old age to do it. He mentioned that Maier found that shorter nonagerians have longer telomeres than taller ones, a biomarker linked to longevity.

Presented in Poster Session 3